Becoming a great athlete takes time, dedication, skill, and training. Typically, we think of training our muscles to become stronger for our sport, but what about training our eyes?
The contribution to athletics made by our eyes goes highly underappreciated. Keen and quick visual skills are necessary in sports for split second decision making. Whether it be hitting a fast ball or catching a touchdown, extensive visual processing occurs to make these things happen.
Major Contributions of the Eyes in Sports
- Tracking: Being able to track a ball is a necessary skill in many sports.
- Depth Perception: Our eyes do the work to calculate and anticipate exactly where a ball is going to land long before it actually hits the ground.
- Eye-Hand Coordination: Many sports require us to be able to process between our eyes and hands (or feet) for solid contact and success in our sports.
- Peripheral Vision: We need to be able to see, sense, and be aware of all that is around us while playing a sport. Often, our safetly depends upon it! Our eyes are able to guage that activity through peripheral vision.
- Dynamic Visual Acuity: Seeing fast moving objects sharply and clearly is essential in so many sports.
- Visualization: Many sports do visualization trainings as part of their mental game. Our eyes allow us to see what we need to do in our sports so that we can mimick it in our game.
Our eyes are so important in athletics! Just like our muscles, we can train our eyes to be better for our sports. The following are a few easy exercises we can do to improve our visual skills:
Easy Eye Exercises
For Depth Perception – Hold a pen at arms length and practice putting on the lid. Once the skill is comfortable at that length, shorten the length a little and practice at that depth. Evenutally, you will want to be able to put the lid on the pen smoothly at various lengths.
For Dynamic Visual Acuity – Find fast moving lettering, on the side of vehicles in traffic for example, and try to make out the letters while they quickly zoom by.
For Peripheral Vision – While staring straight ahead, transfer your awareness to your peripheral vision and ask yourself some questions: What do I see? What color is it? What shape is it? What little details can I make out of it? You could also try to watch TV out of your peripheral vision. Just turn your head and your eyes slightly while watching TV and see if you can still focus on your program.
For Eye Flexibility – Find an object within 24 inches of you and one 10 to 20 feet away from you and quickly transfer your focus back and forth between the two. Make sure you are focusing on small details of each object so your eyes really have to transfer focus between the two objects.
All or any of these easy exercises will help improve your game! When working your muscles for your sports, don’t forget to work your vision too. We want you to be able to be your very best you!